The Best Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Quilts, Fools and Ambition

Everything old is new again, and especially with TUTS' production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. This updated classic sparkles and shines, so get thee to the Hobby Center because this weekend is your last chance to be beguiled. We've also got Internet sensation Puddles (the sad clown with the golden voice), a zombie mud run (sort of a practice run for the coming apocalypse) and an improv theater show that embraces the coming election. And while you're downtown this weekend, why not check out a new art fair at Discovery Green and the oh-so-fabulous quilts at the convention center?
Just like Coco Chanel's little black dress, there are certain Broadway musicals that are smart, chic and timeless. Such is Frank Loesser and Abe Burrows's precisely tailored masterpiece, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1961), a revival via Theatre Under The Stars that is so superbly altered that it comes across as brand-new apparel. J. Pierrepont Finch (the adroitly nimble Chris Dwan) studies the book How to Succeed in Business and, within two weeks, he rises from lowly window washer to Chairman of the Board! He's a lovable heel, and Dwan, with the elastic physicality of Ray Bolger or a slimmer, sleeker Norbert Leo Butz, carries the show on his lanky frame with megawatt grin and breezy charm. Director/choreographer Dan Knechtges is pretty nimble himself, for the stage is awash in bounce and color, down to Tom Sturge and David Sumner's Mondrian-like office backdrop. The show looks great. Freshly scrubbed, it practically glows as it bubbles along. Surrounding Finch is a Who's Who of office politics and washroom intrigue: Jaspar B. Biggley (Stuart Marlay), president of World Wide Wicket Company, constantly on the make; Bud Frump (Joshua Morgan, nicely channeling the original's Charles Nelson Reilly), the boss's weasley nephew; Miss Jones (Allyson Kaye Daniel, who leads the rousing faux-gospel number “Brotherhood of Man”), most capable executive secretary; and, last but not least, Hedy LaRue (Felicia Finley), office bombshell extraordinaire. If you're in the mood this Friday for a beguiling evening of musical theater at its most pleasant and diverting – admit it, who isn't? – How to Succeed is the show for you. Thanks to TUTS's effervescent revival, this is classical Broadway at its classiest.

8 p.m. Friday. Continuing 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Through November 6. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-558-8887 or visit tuts.com. $38.50 to $125.

Puddles — the “sad clown with the golden voice” — is making a pit stop in Houston to show off his magnificent pipes as part of Joe’s Pub Series, courtesy of Lott Entertainment Presents. He may look like a joke, but the millisecond he opens his mouth to sing, all naysayers close theirs. What can Houston audiences expect at the Puddles Pity Party? Puddles predicts a winning formula: “Lots of cheers, some tears and I suspect a few beers.” The velvet-voiced pantomime artist has a knack for bringing out the crowd. While he may not speak, he can sing with the voice of a tenor and the bravado of a matador. Puddles may have a depressed song in his heart, but we are overjoyed to have him and his well-trained vocal chords join us — even if it’s for one weekend only. With more than 164,000 fans on Facebook and 32 million views on YouTube, this Internet sensation is our other pick for Friday night entertainment.

8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Alley Theatre, 615 Texas. For information, call 713-220-5700 or visit alleytheatre.org. $32.

It's chase or be chased with Zombie Charge, what presenter Tanks Paintball bills as the most authentic 5K zombie mud run in Texas. The run is not competitive, but it is daunting as hundreds of runners try to survive the zombie apocalypse by eluding hungry zombies and overcoming challenging obstacles, courtesy of Beast Body Fitness. Or, if you're feeling all undead, sign up as a zombie and get an all-star zombie makeover by artists from the Houston Zombie Walk and Creepy Hollow Haunted House. Tanks Paintball is handing out swag at the finish line – sort of a disaster-preparedness kit – plus they'll have vendors, food trucks and spins by Mega 101.1's DJ Geraldo, making this one of our picks for Saturday fun. Those who survive (all ages) are invited to a free festival afterwards from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. It's all for a good cause: The organizer wants you to "Be Fit, Be Prepared" and also supports several charities including the American Red Cross.

10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. 22011 Southwest Freeway, Richmond. For information, call 281-342-5885 or visit zombiecharge.com. Online registration is now closed, but day-of registration is still open. $34 to $79.

In a world of fools, a jester may be a scholar. With our own reality plunging further into crazytown, maybe it’s time for a little bit of escapist silliness. Enter The Judgment of Fools, the latest “vaudevillian social experiment” from Horse Head Theatre Company. Utilizing the world of clowning, improv and commedia dell’arte, the Bernardo Cubría play is getting a perfectly timed regional debut this close to election day. “It’s not entirely a coincidence we’re putting up this play now,” says Philip Hays, who directs. Though not a traditional improv show, the play does have a trained improviser as the lead. “It’s not ‘give us a suggestion and watch us build’; it’s more ‘we’ll build your suggestion,’” says Hays. “Obviously, [Brendon Duran] has improv skills useful for those moments when the script is unscripted, but he’s also super-bright and passionate about issues. Even though this play is interactive, bumbling underneath this is a show about people.” The wheels come off this Saturday night when they host a write-in election, with a door prize awarded to the best nomination, making this our other recommendation for crazy fun.

8 and 10 p.m. Saturday. Continuing 8 p.m. November 9, 10 and 11; 8 and 10 p.m. Saturdays. Through November 12. Rec Room, 100 Jackson. For information, call 281-381-4166 or visit horseheadtheatre.org. $25 to $45.

Sure, the name says it all, but the curators for Art @ Discovery Green have assembled a nice showcase of about 70 fine and contemporary craft artists for the inaugural, dog-friendly event. We’re digging Christopher Alan Smith’s amazing history-infused hand-drawn maps; the seventh-gen Texan even has a new piece showing active oil and gas wells. Denver’s Carla Wright paints colorful oil-on-wood landscapes, while local fave Leticia Franko is bringing her big-eyed “Whimfansical” heroines (each with her own back story). “There’s incredible work. There are painters, of course,” says Susanne Theis, Discovery Green’s programming director. “There are also some incredible people that work with wood, that work with glass, and I think it’s really high quality. It also coincides with one of the great conventions at George R. Brown, the Quilt Festival.” This outdoor event for art lovers is one of our picks for a cultural Sunday on the Green.

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. November 5 and 6. 1500 McKinney. For information, call 713-400-7336 or visit discoverygreen.com. Free.

Revenge is nigh for people whose college advisers told them they couldn’t major in both arts and crafts — that they’d have to pick just one. The best of both worlds comes together at the International Quilt Festival Houston, featuring more than 1,600 quilts and textile artworks, plus booths selling quilts, fabrics, books, patterns, notions, crafts, machines and supplies. In addition to the miles of beautiful quilts, people have the chance to learn sewing techniques in the more than 500 hands-on classes, lectures and special events. “Only here in Houston do we have such an enormous amount of shopping, art and classes. You don’t, by any stretch of the imagination, have to be a quilter to participate,” says Bob Ruggiero, director of public information for organizer Quilts, Inc. (and a frequent contributor to the Houston Press).  From contemporary designs to fine art, come check out the amazing quilts this Sunday in Houston.

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Additional festival hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas. For information, call 713-781-6864 or visit quilts.com. Free to $42.

Sam Byrd, D. L. Groover and Vic Shuttee contributed to this post.
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Susie Tommaney is a contributing writer who enjoys covering the lively arts and culture scene in Houston and surrounding areas, connecting creative makers with the Houston Press readers to make every week a great one.
Contact: Susie Tommaney